Monitoring Demands for Executive Control: Shared Functions between Human and Nonhuman Primates

Trends Neurosci. 2017 Jan;40(1):15-27. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2016.11.001. Epub 2016 Dec 13.


Fifteen years ago, an influential model proposed that the human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) detects conflict and induces adaptive control of behavior. Over the years support for this model has been mixed, in particular due to divergent findings in human versus nonhuman primates. We here review recent findings that suggest greater commonalities across species. These include equivalent behavioral consequences of conflict and similar neuronal signals in the dACC, but also a common failure of dACC lesions to reliably abolish conflict-driven behavior. We conclude that conflict might be one among many drivers of adjustments in executive control and that the ACC might be just one component of overlapping distributed systems involved in context-dependent learning and behavioral control.

Keywords: anterior cingulate cortex; conflict monitoring; executive control; nonhuman primate; prefrontal cortex.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Primates